I have been reading up a storm in the last couple of months, including trying to catch up on some series that I had started previously but lost track of. One of those was the Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin, about the daughter of a crime boss dealing in illegal chocolate in the year 2083.
I had read the first two books quite a while ago but still wanted to find out what happened in the third book, In the Age of Love and Chocolate. It wasn’t on the library shelf the first time I went, but I picked up two other books by the same author that looked interesting: Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.
I practically inhaled Elsewhere, starting and finishing it in the same afternoon that I checked it out of the library. It was a charming and thought-provoking tale set in a world where, when you die, you go to Elsewhere and live your life again – backwards. Not so much fun when you die at age 15, like our main character Liz Hall, but at least she gets to meet her grandmother and learn how to drive, along with discovering a whole lot about the meaning of life…and death. It’s a fun and clever book that also draws you in and makes you care about the characters. I definitely give it 5 stars for its all-ages appeal.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is the perfect example of a book I would have loved when I was 16 and still enjoyed at 46. It centers on Naomi, who has lost her memories from the last several years as the result of a fall, following her as she slowly regains them. Along the way, she has to figure out how she feels about the boys in her life – her boyfriend, her best friend, and the new guy in town – and deal with their reactions when her current feelings don’t always match up with the past they remember. A solid 4 stars.
Imagine a world where chocolate is illegal? That’s the case in the Birthright series, and the main character Anya Balanchine is the daughter of a powerful crime boss, i.e. illegal importer and distributor of chocolate. To me, In the Age of Love and Chocolate is like the third season of a nighttime drama, when the characters’ stories have crossed and re-crossed each other until they resemble a spider’s web. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two books, although it did provide a satisfying wrap-up at the end. 3 stars.
Although I don’t read much Young Adult these days, it is nice to occasionally dip my toe in the water and see what is out there. I’m always open to suggestions, so feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations!